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Rainbow Over Broadway
IMDB Rating: 5.5/10 from 13 votes
Release: 1 December 1933 (USA) /

Rainbow Over Broadway

Genre: Drama, Music
Director: Richard Thorpe,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Producer Don Hayes wants to help song-writing brother and sister Bob and Judy to succeed, but he also wants to stage a come-back for their ex-vaudeville step-mother Trixie, who refuses to sing their sort of music. He moves them all to New York, and gets a booking for Trixie at a top night club. Bob and Judy write songs for her under pseudonyms, but when two impresarios want to hire the songwriters to write a show for them, Trixie discovers the truth, and threatens to walk out. Written by David Kelsey, Middlesbrough

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Critic Reviews

This poverty row musical from the early 1930's headlines Joan Marsh, a starlet who often stunningly resembled Jean Harlow in publicity photos (though not so much here or in other movies) but actually her part is fairly secondary.

Don (Frank Albertson), a local boy who has made good in show business as a pianist at a lavish New York nightclub, is back in town and run into an old flame Judy Chibbins (Joan Marsh) who invites him to her home where she and her brother Bob (a curiously unbilled George Grandee) hope to interest him in some songs they have written. The Chibbins family is broke in part due to their widowed father (Lucien Littlefield) having married erstwhile Broadway star Trixie Valleron (Gladys Blake) whose expensive tastes have gone through the family fortune. The Chibbins kids openly despise Trixie and when she steals Don's focus during their song-plugging, singing their songs in a sentimental, "old" fashion rather than the jazzy melody the kids envisioned they blow up and Don skedaddles pdq rather than listen to more of Judy's wrath.

Back in New York the singing star of the club walks out in a snit with the owner, leading Don to recall Trixie and suggest her for the gig. He telephones Judy who is at first reluctant to given her dreaded stepmother the break but agrees when Bob wires funds for the whole family to come and promises to put her and Bob's songs into the act until a false name so Trixie won't reject them. Trouble continues in New York though when Trixie seems as much interested in socializing with old friends as with resuming her career and one predatory old pal in particular (May Beatty) may talk her out even attempting the comeback.

Although IMDb states the movie runs 72 minutes the film (available on DVD from Alpha) actually barely runs an hour and the American Film Institute confirms a 62 minute release although 72 minutes had also been alleged (one suspects the movie was cut pre-release to fit more easily into double bills; an introductory scene of Judy and Don running into each other in town is not in the movie but is mentioned in the synopsis quoted by AFI). This movie has an incredibly rushed feel like most short poverty row titles from the 1930's, the film's ending is so quick and unexpected it almost appears a final scene was cut as well but most likely this is just a typical super-fast poverty row wrap up.

Lead Grace Hayes was a vaudeville star of the 1920's who made occasional minor appearances in films during the 1930's. She generally plays her role as a haughty Hedda Hopperesque matron although curiously as a performer she is a brazen Mae West impersonator, singing one number in an exact replica of one of West's costumes from She Done Him Wrong with mannerisms, blonde wig, and decked in rhinestones, even brazenly quoting one of West's trademark lines "How 'm Doin'?" after the song. Snob she may be she is more appealing than her stepchildren whom the movie seems to side with yet they are remarkable obnoxious, rude adult brats who would be right at home in a 21st century reality show. Glenn Boles plays the baby brother of the family (twentyish); he's best known by buffs by being one of Moss Hart's real life boy toys in the 1930's (he went on to a distinguished career as a psychologist).

The movie's best scene is the encounter with Trixie's old "pal", the obviously much older "Queenie" played by character actress May Beatty who is supposed to be a contemporary of hers but looks almost old enough to be her grandmother. This is the largest part I've ever seen May Beatty in (she usually played bits) and she's a lot of fun if a most improbable ex-showgirl from just a generation ago. The songs are remarkably pleasant for such a cheapie and the cast does well but it appears the screenwriter ever heard of the concept of a second draft.

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